Bernalillo County Commission fails on paid leave

Mandatory paid leave passed last night at Bernalillo County Commission. The vote was 3-2 with Commissioner Pyskotty ultimately deciding to vote against the proposal along with Commissioner Talbert (the only Republican on the Commission).

Notably, the County never completely complied with our requests for public records to find out what communications the public had sent to the Commission on this issue and what various interest groups on both sides had done in terms of working directly with the Commission to shape the ordinance. The public was left in the dark.

The final ordinance (available here) was “improved” in a few ways with an administrative process and a phase-in process, but there are several fundamental problems with the ordinance:

  1. Enforcement and compliance will both be the largest issues. The County does not have the expertise or resources to enforce the ordinance and it will be difficult for certain businesses with operations in and out of the unincorporated part of the County to comply;
  2. The biggest impact will be felt by the smallest businesses that have to divert their attention from managing their business to complying with the new ordinance. Detailed records and addressing complaints are not what they are in business to do. The harm will not be obvious as these businesses are small and their closure or movement is not newsworthy;
  3. The ordinance is STILL written in ways that reflect its origins as paid sick leave mandate. Workers can use their leave at virtually any time without notice and for any reason. That makes sense for sick employees, not for what amounts to paid vacations.

Government needs to stay away from one-size-fits-all mandates and intervention in the relationship between workers and their employers. Unfortunately, I suspect the next step is a similar proposal from Albuquerque City Council to further make the area inhospitable as a business location.

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6 Replies to “Bernalillo County Commission fails on paid leave”

  1. I do not normally follow the news, Yesterday my son came by and told me about the new law. I am amazed at what little outcry from a small business owner that is just not saying anything about this nonsense. I was thinking about putting a notice to our customers to ask for donations to fund this instead of raising our prices. I have never seen this site before, I found it by accident searching for any news about this.

    1. I can assure you that the Rio Grande Foundation and numerous businesses and business groups all rallied to oppose this plan. Small businesses especially in this area tend to not have the time, resources, or inclination to stick their necks out (especially on a politically-divisive issue). Perhaps you can join efforts to fight such absurd laws in the future. We need all hands on deck to oppose Albuquerque’s impending sick leave mandate.

  2. I do not understand what “unincorporated areas of the county” mean.
    We employ senior caregivers for my elderly mother who has dementia in ABQ. Does any of this apply to our situation?

    1. So, because this was done at the County level and due to the way NM laws work, county policies only apply in areas of the state without another local government involved. So, if you live in Albuquerque, the Village of Tijeras, or Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, you would not be impacted by the new law when it takes effect on July 1. If you live in Albuquerque it appears that the City Council is going to be considering a similar leave law in the near future. You can send a note to: and we’ll do what we can to help, but your situation is a real challenge that I don’t think the Commission considered carefully.

  3. Abominable that a state grants its political subdivisions this level of completely arbitrary authority.
    Even the state should not possess this level of authority.
    Cap off with potential for federal, state, local governments to set minimum wage standards, on a gross area basis (I was unaware $15 an hour in Billerica, Mass has the exact same value as in Silver City, NM, or that Silver has same costs as Santa Fe) Wow.

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